Immanuel Wallerstein

Abby Miller, 2nd Hour, 3/13/16

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Background Information

Immanuel Wallerstein was born on September 28, 1930 and lived the majority of his life in New York, New York. He is an American Sociologist, Historical Social Scientist, and World-Systems Analyst. He is currently the Senior Research Scholar Director at Yale University.

Educational Background

Wallerstein joined the Army and served from 1951-1953, then attended Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree including a Ph.D. after several years of schooling.


Wallerstein began his career as a professor of Sociology at McGill University, then became the acclaimed professor of Sociology at Binghamton University. He focused specifically on the study of politics of the non-European world, mainly on India and countries in Africa. He was the Head of Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, and has held numerous positions as visiting professor at many universities. He has also joined several committees focused on politics and world affairs such as, the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History journal, International Sociological Association,Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences, along with many more.

Awards and Accomplishments

Wallerstein is profoundly known for his extensive research which led to his creation of the World Systems Theory. For his work on this theory he was awarded the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association, and the Gold Kondratieff Medal by the International N. D. Kondratieff Foundation and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RAEN) in 2003 and 2004. Recently in 2014, he was granted the International Sociological Association (ISA) Award for Excellence in sociological research.

The World-Systems Theory

The World-Systems Theory is illuminated by a three-tier structure concluding that social change is directly related to the economic activities of the developing world. The three main parts of the world-systems theory include:

  1. The world economy has one market and a global division of labor.
  2. Although the world has multiple states, almost everything takes place within the contest of the world economy.
  3. The world economy has a three-tier structure.

Core: Rich, capitalist countries of the world that are mostly economically stable. They exploit periphery countries for resources and labor.

Periphery: Poor countries of the world that are not economically stable and lacking in industry. They depend on the core countries for economic assistance.

Semi-Periphery: Countries that are not quite economically stable and are exploited by the core, yet exploit the periphery.

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The World Systems Theory explains how the Greedy uses the Needy